Traveling in the Haiku Tunnel…

It was the strangest thing. Reliant Energy sent out Christmas cards this year with a coupon inside for a free rental at Blockbuster. I appreciate the thought, but isn’t there something better they could use my money for than sending me a card thanking me for being their customer? (At inflated rates, I’m sure.)

Mike & I took advantage of the free movie rental and picked up “Haiku Tunnel“. This movie is the “Office Space” of the temp world. It is absolutely hysterical, and if you have ever worked as a temp, worked as a secretary, worked at a law firm or dealt with attorneys in general you MUST see this movie. Ok, I don’t really care if you have done any of those things – Mike laughed through it all almost as hard as I did and he hasn’t. So just go pick it up. My gift to you – tipping you off that this is a GOOD movie.

Let’s analyze this. I get paid (when I temp) an ok salary to do relatively little. This is an accepted fact for the most part in the temp world, especially on the short term assignments. Let’s take today for example – I was only there from 12:30 to 5:00. If someone is only going to be there for a day, you don’t want to bog them down training them on something they don’t need to know later. Why bother? So basically you get paid to sit there and look pretty. Any work handed to you is mindless busy work like stuffing envelopes or putting labels on stuff. Meanwhile you answer the phone and forward calls. Easy-peasy, couldn’t ask for more.

A month of doing this has left me questioning things, much like Josh – the main character in the movie. Working on short-term assignments, you show up, you save the day (he is from “Uniforce!” which is best said with an attitude) and then you go home. No cares, no worries … and no permanence. You are greeted by the other employees with friendly head-bobs and smiles. No one really talks to you because you’re just the temp.

This changes to some extent when you temp on a long-term assignment. If you’re going to be there two or three months, people figure they should talk to you and at least get to know you a little bit. You may never be invited to the after-work happy hour, but that’s ok. You’re a temp and you know it.

This changes dramatically when you go perm. That means … you have a job. Are you really doing what you want to do? Why are you there? What is your real goal in life?

Which leads right in to where I am at today emotionally. Temping is fun. It’s nice and relaxing. I didn’t realize just how stressed out I was until I wasn’t stressed out anymore. I’ve been in that high stress mode for over 3 years. Do I really want to live my life that way? No. I don’t like sitting on the edge of the technology world worrying when it will be my turn again to be pushed off. I will always have my websites, and I will always have Blogomania, so my techno needs are fulfilled. But … I need to go perm. I need the benefits. The insurance. The stability of the day-to-day routine. I’m looking at Administrative Assistant positions. Secretary jobs. This is a huge pay cut for me compared to where I was in the tech world – but the tech days with the bloated salaries are gone too. I don’t need or want the stress.

But am I throwing my talent away? Am I settling for something easy? Am I finally going for that “American Beauty” job? You know – the scene where Kevin Spacey says at the fast-food restaurant that he wants “the job with the least amount of responsibility.” Is that who I have become? Not having a college degree stands in my way time & time again too. It is quite simply frustrating. However, I know I am going in on the entry level – which is silly if you ask me since I have 10+ years of similar work experience. I feel just like I did 10 years ago though. No one wants to hire you without experience, so I finally asked someone that was interviewing me, “Just how do you expect me to get experience anyways when no one will hire me? Huh?” She didn’t have an answer. At least it’s not quite that extreme now, but I feel like it is.

I got a call today about a temp-to-perm job. This is a good thing – they are more likely to try you out because if they don’t like you they don’t have to take you on permanently. It’s for a huge group here in Houston that is quite prominent. The pay is low, but they move people up quickly and promote from within and they are a large group. They should have my resume by now, so I just have to wait to see if they want to set up an interview. The other firm from last week is still making a decision and I’ve been told they may not know anything until the end of the week. This is when it all gets stressful.

I want a career. I want a job with a firm that I will be with 10, 15, 20 years from now. I want peace and serenity. Now if only I could figure out what I want to be when I grow up… and if only I could write a haiku to sum all of this up!

By Christine

Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.

11 replies on “Traveling in the Haiku Tunnel…”

I think I always want the opposite of what I have. I have been trying to come up with ways to work from home for some extra money. I would love to free lance be able to stay home instead of having to deal with the daily grind of a 9-5 job. Good luck!

Have seen this movie! Wasn’t sure anyone else had! You know, I’m of the opinion that if you try on enough hats you’ll find one that looks might pretty on your head. ((It’ll come to you))

A college degree these days isn’t necessarily the great thing it’s cracked up to be. Heck, I had over three years of “experience” at school and a degree to boot, and I have yet to find a real job. :\ Of course, Richmond’s design market is pretty small for the market saturation (last design job I applied for, there were over 100 other applicants).

WOW! I thought I was the only one who felt this way. Although I don’t have the 10+ yrs experience, I found that my biggest problem when I moved back to my home state was that I had to much experience for an entry level position but not enough for the job I was doing when I left FL. Where’s the logic in this? Now maybe people not hiring me at an entry level position was a good idea because now I have a temp to perm position and I’m rather bored. Maybe it’s the temp portion where I’m in limbo, or maybe it’s just because it’s a slow season for this type of company. Who knows but the logic that revolves around the corporate world makes no sense to anyone except those who are at the top and don’t have to worry about it.

I feel just like you. I don’t have the college degree, but have great experience and I’m a hard/dedicated/great employee. Yet, I don’t really like to work and if I could stay at home I would. I also don’t want to finish my degree. All I really want is to be able to pay my bills and have a wonderful and loving relationship with my family. But when I say this people think I’m just lazy.

I’ve been struggling with the same sort of things, Christine, with the added issue of my health. For me, though, the administrative assistant jobs aren’t challenging enough and that causes its own kind of stress for me. And then there is my health… I learned the hard way that I just can’t handle a traditional 9-5 job. I need to telecommute. Anyway… I don’t know how the unemployment situation works in Texas, but in NJ they pay for you to get additional training and continue your benefits… and, depending on the school, you might be able to get cheap (like $200/term) insurance. Maybe that’s an option that will be you some time? I think that’s what I’m going to do…

I’m sure everything will work out for your best in the end. As they say, “Everything works out okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” I hope something promising (your dream job) lands in your lap soon!

Great post, Christine!! I have temped on and off ever since I graduated from high school. I botched up getting my degree (see my blog if you’re dying to read the story lol), and it wouldn’t have helped me get a job in my current field anyway. By virtue of temping, I was able to keep up with current technology and systems AND keep my bills paid (mostly). I LOVED being the champion on the white horse, coming to save the day of a company in distress. Sounds silly, but it was a great ego boost. Not to mention the very salient points you made about not having to work very hard to impress the company on a short-term assignment. I get requested once I’ve been somewhere once, though, so it’s like I make friends I can go back and get paid to visit.

Now I have a perm job. I love it, I have to admit. It’s relatively low stress, unlike when I was in management, but it’s got just enough to keep me busy and interested. I even end up with enough time to read blogs and work on mine when it needs it. And I actually get paid for this.

I hope you find “the perfect job”, or at least one that will make you happy and keep your bills paid. 🙂 (sorry for the novel in your comments)

I so often feel like that: “I want the job with the least amount of responsibility” LOL! Keep hanging in there. Something will turn up!! (If not, you can always come up here and be my blog-shrink and nanny!!) ;D

That is *exactly* how I felt earlier this year. No one understood why I was applying for (insisting on) non-techy positions. Then I got one that was exactly what I wanted. Small local business, high on family atmosphere, hardwork with everyone pitching in to do whatever needs to get done and zero office politics.

So I do the job in one third the time they expect me to be able to learn to do it and they have nothing left for me to do. I’m finally cleaning out their 3 year old filing cabinet system and reorganizing the supply closet. I’m dusting. I’m vacuuming. I don’t even dust and vacuum at home. I’m offering to go home early or only work one or two days a week because they’ve promised the work will pick up and I’m willing to wait. They tell me, no, just enjoy the slow time and read a book. I go through at least five books in one week. I’m bored to death and everytime someone walks by I pratically beg for something to do.

blah blah blah, I’m there and trying to make a go of it and they “let me go” because they say they just “know” that I’ll quit them when something better comes along. Why oh why would *I* stay working for them. Oh and I was always reading books all the time instead of asking for something to do ?!!!

So, venting over, the stress free aspect is important and addictive, but still, don’t go into a field you are so very overqualified for because it doesn’t mean they will value or trust you more. Most of the time it means thy will eye you suspiciously and act threatened by your competence.

The world today, I swear.

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